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Pupils argue their way to the top

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Pupils argue their way to the top
Three teams from the Southern suburbs clinched a place at the final round of the 2013 third annual National Schools Moot Court Competition after competing at the western Cape provincial round held at the Cape Town Magistrates Court on Saturday May 25.

Teams from Bergvliet High, Livingstone, Heideveld High, Bridge House, Springfield, Immaculata, Pelican Park High, ID Mkize, the Cape Academy for Maths, Science and Technology competed for one of the four spots up for grabs. Amazingly, more than 60% of these schools are from the Southern suburbs in Cape Town.

A Moot competition is a role playing exercise where participants are provided with the facts of an imaginary case which involves human rights issues. Working in teams of two, participants are then requested to write two short essays, defending each side of the story, using the South African Constitution. The best essays are chosen and the authors given a chance to present their cases in court.

“It was seriously nerve wracking initially,” said Sasha Holloway(16), who represented Springfield. “The judges ask hard questions, rapid fire; you have to watch out for confusion or signs of agreement and adjust acordingly.”

The competition played out in three court rooms with six schools competing at a time. The remaining three competing schools paced the hallways, eagerly going over their cases with their team members, while they waited their turns. With only four teams going through to the final national round to be held in Pretoria and Johannesburg in August from the 9th to the 11th, 2013, tensions ran high. 

Each court room had a panel of five judges presiding over proceedings and judging the teams presentation of their case, whether as a defendant or applicant. “The competition was very good, I would think twice about taking some of them on in court,” said Junaid Baig(31), an attorney at Halday Attorneys.  

Mr Justin Mc Bride(40), an attorney at Marais, Muller and Yekiso was encouraged by Mr Baig, who was a judge at last years competition, to volunteer his time to be a judge at this years competition. “I was very impressed by the standard of competition, these teams could give more than half the practicing attorneys a run for their money,” Mr Mc Bride said.

Representing the Cape Academy in Constantia, Zakariyah Toyer(17) and Kurt Lee Tamon(17), did their school proud. “We really enjoyed the experience, we have learnt a lot,” they said.

In the end though, the team from Immaculata High School took top honours with the teams from Bergvliet High School coming in a close second. Springfield Convent took the third place and the only school not from the Souther suburbs, Bridge House in Fraanschoek, took the last spot.

“Preparation, lots of preparation is the key for success at the national rounds,” Mr Baig said. The winning team at the national rounds will receive financial support towards their first year to study law at a South African university of their choice.

Words and images by Clinton Wittstock
Freelance writer and photographer
Article appeared in the Constantiaberg Bulletin

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